Jewellery

Our introductory workshop for jewellery was more an introduction to working with the materials and processes that could be used to make jewellery. Our actual task for the day was to make a sculpture, again inspired by Bauhaus.

Our first task was of course to complete our health and safety induction as detailed bellow:

Then the technician talked us through the following processes that would allow us to work with the materials to create our sculptures.

Annealing

Annealing is a process that softens the metal by heating it. After it has been annealed it can be manipulated a couple of times before it would then need to be annealed again, if it is used too much without further annealing it becomes brittle and eventually could snap.

In order to heat the metal we had to use the torches. Each torch has two pipes connected to it, orange for gas and blue for oxygen.

Torch

As well as this they have a pilot light stood next to it which is what you have to light first by turning the valve anti-clockwise and using the flint sparker to light it.

Sparker

Making sure the pilot light is around 1 cm by adjusting the valve you then use it to light the torch. When lighting the torch it is always best to turn the gas valve on first, light it with the pilot, then turn on the oxygen. This should be repeated in reverse order to turn it off again as if you do not do it in the right order there is a load pop noise.

Lit Pilot Light

A bushy blue flame is best for annealing so once you have achieved this, from again adjusting the valves, you are ready to begin heating your metal. Place the metal on the stone surface provided and use the tip of the flame to heat the metal until it goes to a dull red colour.

Stone work space for when using torches

Once you have finished heating, turn off the torch, place it on the stand and use the tongs to ‘quench’ the metal by placing it into the container of water.

Water jug for quenching

Pickle Bath

A pickle bath is a mix of acid and water which is heated underneath. It cleans off any oxides on your metal leaving it with a clean, shiny finish. There is a sieve in the container to place your work in and you should leave it in there for at least half a minute, although you can always leave it for longer without causing any damage.

Pickle Bath

As it can be harmful to your skin if you were to come into contact with the mixture it is always best to use gloves and the tongs when putting your work in or taking it out. Also make sure you dry of your metal thoroughly before using it on any of the other equipment to avoid rusting of the tools.

Tongs

                                                               Safety Gloves                                                                     Rolling Mill

In order to create a texture for our work we were shown how to use the rolling mill. This can be used for most materials but not for steel as steel is stronger and could break it.

To add detail to your work you can choose almost anything that already has a texture and use it to indent your metal such as fabric, copper wire, plastic or even leaves. All you need to do is to attach it to your metal, adjust the plates accordingly to get the correct pressure and use the lever to pull it through the mill. After this you can always use fine sandpaper to brush over the top and highlight the texture you have just created.

Rolling Mill

Metal Snips

In order to join our pieces together of metal together we used slots which we created by using the metal snips. The metal snips are made from forged alloy steel making them strong enough to cut through most materials used to make jewellery. To use them you simply need to mark where you want to cut and then cut as if you were using a pair of scissors.

Raw Hide Hammer

Before cutting your metal you may want to flatten it out, especially if it has just been through the rolling mill. We used the raw hide hammer to do this by placing our metal onto our work surface and banging the hammer down until it was how we wanted it.

Mandrills

If you wanted a curve in your metal you could create this by using a combination of the mandrills, which are cone shaped, and the rawhide hammer. Simply place your metal onto the mandrill and whilst holding it there with one hand tap it into shape using the rawhide hammer.

Mandrills

Vice

The Vice can be used to clamp the metal in place and which can be useful when try to create an angle in your metal by again using the rawhide hammer to knock whilst the vice holds it Tightly in place.

Vice

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Textiles

Introduction to dyeing

Our introductory session in textiles, lead by Katie Lee, focused on dyeing techniques primarily by using tie dye with natural colours found in food. As textiles is a part of my chosen specialisation I was particularly looking forward to the workshop.

We began by talking through the health and safety of the print room which was the space that we were using. We were given the following sheet which outlined this:

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We continued by discussing what we were going to achieve within that session. Katie explained to us that we were going to make several tie dye samples by using Bauhaus inspired shapes and natural colours found in food, as well as samples using Indigo dye.

In total I completed 6 samples, one each for the food dyes leaving two for the Indigo dye. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to retrieve all of my samples as some got lost along the way.

For each food type we used a hot plate to heat a dye vat filled with water and the relevant ingredients. We added salt to each mixture as this helps fix the dyes to the clothes, although soda ash is what would be used within the fashion industry. As the dye vats could get very hot we were advised to use the safety gloves as well as an apron to protect our clothes from stains. We waited for each vat to reach boiling point before we added our samples and left them for about half an hour, stirring occasionally.

For my first sample I used an elastic band to tie the fabric around a milk bottle cap, ensuring it was fastened as tightly as possible in order to achieve the best results. I put this in the turmeric and korma mix for which we used the following recipe:

  • 5 tbl spoons of salt
  • 10 cm of water
  • 76 g of turmeric
  • 55g korma powder

I think this was my most successful sample and I was impressed with the vibrant yellow result. The pattern itself may not have come out as a geometric circle as planned,  but instead it looks similar to the outline of a mouth which I think works particularly well with the liveliness of the colour. It reminds me of the images of mouths layered upon each other in the Bauhaus film strip ‘Architecture Theory.’ It would be interesting to recreate this sample whilst attempting to layer the image in a similar way.

For another sample I used a block of rectangular wood, again fastened with elastic bands which I put in the red onion vat using the following recipe:

  • 5 tbl spoons of salt
  • 10 cm of water
  • 500g of chopped red onions
  • 1 Pint of grape juice

Unfortunately this sample wasn’t so successful as it came out as a rather unappealing, watery, brown colour. If the colour had been more attractive then maybe the pattern, two wavy lines, would have stood out more. Overall it isn’t something I would be likely to go back to.

I had another two samples, one which involved stapling folds into place and another with more bottle tops and marbles but these are the ones I couldn’t find.

Indigo Dye

Originated from India, Indigo dye was originally an extract derived from the Indigo Plant. Blues were once a very rare colour and so the Indigo plant served as a ground breaking solution to this problem making it very popular, however nowadays the majority of Indigo dye is synthetic and used primarily for dying jeans.

As the Indigo dye we used was a synthetic dye we had to use the gloves and masks provided when putting in and removing our samples.

Further Experimentation

As I had mixed results from my natural dye samples I decided to experiment further, still incorporating the tie dye method but with manufactured dyes to attempt to achieve better quality colours.

The dyes I used were similar to working with the natural colours of the food as they were designed to be used with boiling water, although as I was working at home I had to substitute the hot plate and dye vat for my gas cooker and a now purple tinted saucepan.

The first colour I used was a vibrant pink, I had decided to attempt to create more circular images this time and so found a selection or round objects such as a bottle top and bracelet etc, securing the fabric tightly with elastic bands.

After half an hour of boiling in my saucepan I was left with a very 70’s, hippy chick tie dye effect which was powerfully pink in colour. I particularly like the fact that the fabric I used (an old sofa cover) has a raised floral pattern which complements the tie dye nicely but as far as creating a precise circle is concerned another technique would probably have been more effective.

tiedye tiedye2

Next I decided to attempt the dip dye method as this has proven to be very popular within the fashion industry and could be effective in revamping old clothes.

An example of the dip dye method on the catwalk

With a khaki green dye, salt and water bubbling on the stove I placed the bottom third of my fabric into the pot, holding it for there about ten minutes. The bubbles seemed to be causing splatters of dye further up the fabric which isn’t what I wanted so I tried turning the heat down to leave it at a low simmer. After ten minutes I lowered the second third of the fabric into the dye as well and held it there for a further 5 minutes. Finally I submerged the rest of the fabric for around a minute longer before taking it out and rinsing it with cold water.

The sample definitely showed the use of the dip dye method but I didn’t feel that there was enough contrast between each colour. I thought  that if I extended the length of time in between how long each part of the sample was in the dye for it may make it easier to differentiate between the tones. This time I tried it with the pink dye.

Unfortunately the difference in shades was still not that clear, although there was a noticeable difference between the first and last colour. So I attempted one last sample, using purple dye, but this time using only two tones. Not only did this have most visible distinction between the shades but also had the nicest transition between them.

I think I need to work on this technique further, increasing the time differences even more so and experiment using clothing rather then just small samples, but I have definitely already made an improvement when dip dyeing.

After playing around with tie and dip dye I began to consider using dye to print. I thought I would refer back to my earlier attempt of creating geometric circles and so looked around for something to print with that would covey this shape well. I found some bubble wrap which I thought would make an excellent choice as it has many circles lined up consecutively.

Bubblegumeffect

As you can see I covered the bubble wrap in fabric paint and pressed it onto the fabric. Although I chose the colour by chance I really like how the pink works with the circles as it reminds me of bubblegum bubbles. Also the texture created by the air filled bubbles of the bubble wrap can be seen in the form of little creases which I wouldn’t have achieved if I had used a flat, hard object. I think this was a successful sample and something I could expand upon to use on a fashion or textile related project in the future.

As the bubble wrap printing went quite well I looked for something else to experiment with that was rich in texture. I noticed the ridges on the leaves of my house plant were quite prominent and so I picked a few of the best ones in slightly different sizes to try out. This time I opted to use more then one colour as well as overlapping the leaves.

Surfprint

It turned out similar to a surf style pattern which was enhanced by my choice of colours. The colours also worked well with being layered upon each other, still showing the distinction between each one rather then just covering it up. Again I was happy with this result and may try it again with more of a variety of leaves and different tones.

Ceramics

This was my first encounter with ceramics and I knew very little on the subject so I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but as with all the craft workshops I was eager to learn a new skill.

We were talked through the following information and techniques that would allow us to create the 3D shapes needed for our Bauhaus inspired piece.

Preparing The clay

When preparing your clay you need to ensure that there are no air bubbles by smacking the clay down onto the your work surface, repeatedly on different sides. This is important as when put into the kiln the air from the bubbles would heat and rise, causing your work to crack.

Plastic Clay

Plastic clay is the state that the clay begins in when it is still at it’s most malleable, this is best for joining two pieces of clay together and for forming the initial shape.

Leather Clay

Leather clay is when the clay has been left to dry, possibly in a heated cabinet like the ones we used in the college workspace. When in this state the clay is still workable but holds its form better and so is useful when cutting straight edges, adding detail or to smooth and neaten your work.

Scoring and Slipping

  • When joining two edges together you should make sure that both pieces are equally as wet. This is because as clay dries it shrinks, so if one piece was wetter it would need to shrink more then the other, this would cause tension and make your work crack.
  • You also need to make sure you score the area where you want the join to go, making cross hatch scores are most effective. Doing this allows for the slip to get into the clay making it easier to join the pieces together. Make sure you do not create air bubbles when adding the slip as again they would explode and crack your work.
  • Once your work is scored and has the slip added put the pieces together and use the rib tool to help seal and smooth the join.

Making a Sphere by Pinching

  • Begin with a ball of plastic clay and tear it into to two equally sized pieces.
  • Next you use your thumb to create an indent in the centre of one half, gradually working the clay so that the centre is con caved.
  • Once you have achieved this, keeping the thickness of the edges as consistent as possible. you repeat on the second half.
  • Then you need to place both halves together using the score and slip method.
  • Finally after leaving it to dry and become leather clay you can neaten your sphere and use water to help smooth it.

Making a Cylinder

  • An effective way to make a cylinder is to use another cylinder shaped object such as the inside tube of a kitchen roll.
  • Use a piece of paper to wrap around the cylinder to figure out the size and shape of clay needed then cut the paper to make a template.
  • Roll out a piece of clay to an even thickness in the same way that you would roll out pastry.
  • Use the paper template to cut out the clay needed.
  • Put the clay around the cylinder shaped object, score the edges and use the slip to join them together then smooth join with your fingers or rib tool.
  • Let the clay turn to leather clay to finish off the shape, using water if needed to smooth it.

Cube or Cuboid

  • To create a cube or cuboid shape you need to first roll out enough clay to make all the sides, using a paper template will help you judge this and also to cut the shapes out later.
  • Leave the clay to dry, turning it to leather clay, preferably in a hot cupboard.
  • Once the clay is leather clay you can cut out the shapes needed to create your cube or cuboid. Next join them together by scoring the edges and using the joining slip. It may be best to do one or two sides at a time, letting them dry out further and then put the rest together.

Decorative Slip

The decorative slip is used to add a white finish to the clay. Although you can apply it in pretty much any way you choose we were shown how to cut out strips of newspaper to use as barriers or stencils, attaching them to your work by using a tiny bit of water if needed. Then just paint on the slip to create lines and shapes to complement your finished work.

Inspiration

I had two main sources of inspiration for my work, the first pictured bellow is by Gordon Baldwin OBE who is an internationally renowned potter. This piece stood out to me because of the delicate drips of blue which could be incorporated into my own piece.

I discovered this during my Bauhaus research, a piece of work from a class lead by Johanas Itten. When speaking about this particular piece he said ‘In order to let students experience primary geometric forms in a three-dimensional manner, I had them model sculptural forms such as spheres, cylinders, cones and cubes.’ I found this to be very relevant to our own task and was drawn to the continuation of the shapes, how they cut into one another.

Cube composition, Else Mogelin

Design

We were told to draw some 3D shapes to get us started in designing our work. I found this to be useful in order to get to grips with the 3D element of the task as whenever I draw, design or doodle I do it in 2D with no consideration for the shape or depth of a 3D object.

As I drew the shapes I began to consider how I would place them together. Whilst considering the work of Else Mogelin I drew a combination of shapes merged within each other as I found the concept of not being able to distinguish between the beginning or end of each object to be visually appealing.

Constructing my Work

With my design complete it was time to get to grips with the clay. I began with getting the it rolled out, ready to dry in the hot cupboard and become leather clay, to use after break to create my cuboid and square. Once this was done I was left to create my sphere. I used the pinching technique and paid careful attention to keep the edges the same thickness on each half. Then after scoring the edges and using the slip and rib tool to join them it was also ready to dry in the hot cupboard.

After break I returned to cut out my squares and rectangles to create my cube and cuboid. Again I scored the edges and used the slip to join the sides, gradually my 3d shapes were formed.

Now I had all three shapes it was time to cut off parts of the sphere and cube and compile them together (more scoring and slip) to create my piece. The only part left now was to decorate, but I decided to go against what we had been shown earlier and instead use the work of Gordon Baldwin as inspiration and created a melting effect by pouring the decorative slip over my model. The unpredictable lines and drips created was a perfect contrast to the precise and rigid shapes and so I was very happy with the result.

Finished Piece

Glass

I was intrigued by the glass workshop as I had no idea what it involved, that was until I was able to sneak a glimpse of some work done by the group before mine. I was surprised by how professional and complexed it looked and wondered how we were going to manage to achieve this in just one afternoon, but at the same time was very excited to get started.

View of the Glass Studio

After being shown around the workspace we were talked through the health and safety which is outlined bellow:

We were all given a square piece of glass and discussed it’s properties, including it’s transparency, smoothness and shininess. The technician explained how we were then going to use a method called sandblasting, a process which involves diffusing the glass removing any transparency on the sandblasted area, leaving an etched affect.

Sandblasting got it’s name as originally people used sand as part of the process, however it was later discovered that this wasn’t healthy for the people using the machines. The silica dust created whilst sandblasting can get into peoples lungs and then cause Silicosis, a potentially fatal disease. Nowadays within the UK an alternative material is used as well as having extra safety measures imposed, such as proper ventilation, that ensure the safety of workers. Unfortunately this is not necessarily the case in other parts of the world. Places such as Bangladesh have people using the more primitive method with little protection in order to create things such as the stressed denim effect on clothes, that are then bought and in sold in places like the UK. Workers are often aware of the adverse affects it can have on their health but are too poor to walk away from their jobs. This type of immoral practice is something I will refer to later when looking into sustainability and ethics within consumerism and how it can be affected/ have an effect on my work.

And so back to sandblasting…

Before we began to focus on the pattern we wanted to create we had to prepare our glass, this involved smoothing the edges using the diamond tipped sandpaper with a little. The reason diamonds are used is because they are stronger then the glass allowing it to be sanded down, similar to how you would use normal sandpaper on wood. Whilst doing this though we had to make sure just to rub along the edges so that we didn’t create scratches on the surfaces of the glass. Once our edges were smooth and even we had to wash off our glass with soapy water and dry it thoroughly.

Our glass was now ready to apply tour resist, which was sticky back plastic, on either one or both sides depending on how many sides would be sandblasted. When doing this we had to be careful not to get air bubbles underneath as that would interfere with the next stage of drawing on the pattern. I found that starting from one side and using a ruler to smooth it down was a great way to prevent any air bubbles.

We then had to design our pattern and draw it onto the resist, I talk about this in more detail later on…

Once we had our pattern drawn we used a scalpel to cut along the lines, removing the PVC where it would then be sandblasted. The more precise this was done the better the end result would be. Mine was fairly neat but there are a couple of places where my inaccuracies are visible within my completed piece, these can be seen bellow in these close ups:

The problem was that I was initially too hesitant when using the scalpel and therefore didn’t press down hard enough, meaning I had to go back over the same lines. I now know how much pressure to use so if I was to do it again I could achieve a better result.

Now came the fun part, using the sandblasting machine.

Sandblasting Machine

To begin with we had to turn on the extractor then simply lift up the lid, place the glass inside then shut it again.

Button to turn on Extractor

Then we had to place our hands inside the large, plastic, built in gloves in order to hold our glass and put our foot on the presser that made the machine work. The longer we held the glass there, moving it around to ensure all the necessary parts were blasted, the more noticeable the ridges around the pattern would become which is something else I would like to experiment with when I have more time.

Built in Gloves

Foot Pedal

Inspiration

Geometric shapes are a prominent part of Bauhaus art but they have been used by the varying artists in different ways.

For example this image bellow by Wassily Kandinsky shows a complex arrangement of shapes that are layered upon each other, overlapping to make more shapes. I particualry like the layering effect and think it would lend well to the glass when sandblasted on alternate sides.

Here in this piece by Eugen Batz that was created as part of class by Kandinsky, you can see a far simpler take on the use of geometric shapes whilst still incorporating the use of layering.

Bauhaus: Eugen Batz Exercise for colour theory course taught by Kandinsky

Design

As we were short on time I couldn’t spend as long as I wanted to designing my image and so this did influence my decision greatly to opt for a simplistic deign like the one created by Eugen Batz. And so I arranged some rectangles, triangles and a circle across the space I had to work with in a way that felt even and balanced. Although I was unable to overlap the shapes, by sandblasting both sides, I liked the idea of the shape being cut short and so placed my circle in the corner, only showing a quarter of it.

First Attempt

Overall I thought the process was simple and effective with a lot of potential for creating far more intricate work, dependant on the time and effort that was put into the design. Although I was really happy with my simply designed piece of glass I felt the need to return to the studio to create a more complex piece . Whilst bearing in mind the Bauhaus concept of creating artistic, hand crafted items that have an everyday purpose, I decided to make these 20 x 20 squares of glass into a set of four coasters with corresponding patterns.

Back to the drawing board

The particular piece of work I had in mind whilst designing my coasters was this wall hanging my Ani Albers. I like how the colours change as the shapes overlap, adding to the complexity of the image. Although I am not able to recreate this as I am not using colour I can instead represent it through the use of sandblasted and non sandblasted areas on each side of the glass, creating a third tonality.

I drew the design with the four coasters together creating one image across them, then when separated they also convey four individual images. I decided to begin with the two diagonal lines that overlap in the back ground, which you can see here, drawn onto the resit.

I’m going to leave the resit on those areas which means they will remain transparent, apart from the small space where they overlap. This will be removed and sandblasted along with the background.

The wall hanging by Albers featured mainly circles so to make this my own the only one I am going to use is in the centre, joining all four coasters together. I struggled to get the circle exact and it was particularly hard to cut out.

Then I decided to alternate my coasters with triangles and rectangles. When I cut the shapes out I left the resit on the areas where they overlapped which will create the two toned effect I was going for. This is of course the opposite of what I did on the other side with the diagonal lines (I left the overlapped areas clear instead of covered) which should create even more shapes and patterns.

Finished Piece

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Once sandblasted on all sides I could see that design worked really well and showed a clear link between Albers piece and my own. I was however quite disappointed with the quality of the lines and edges which down to me rushing when cutting it out as well as the fact I has used a knife instead of a much sharper scalpel. I hope to be able to return to this again in the near future to be able to get it perfect.